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Ballroom Dance Music - Modern Ballroom Songs

Updated on February 25, 2011

Ballroom Dance's music used to be strictly boring. Many people probably still expect to hear gorgeous dancers to be accommpanied by the ever-green light orchestra which somehow manages to make everything from a waltz to a paso doble sound the same, and heaven forbid that there would be a vocalist! Thank goodness times have changed, with the notable exception of British Open at Blackpool, almost all dancesport competitions are now run with CD's and modern technology means that even if the original of a piece is too slow or fast then it can be changed down or up to suit. Up to date music features in all dances and there is no reason to be bored practising to old "Joe Blow's Orchestra plays..." tracks.

Strict Tempo Dance Music

Competitive Ballroom Dancing is always danced to "strict tempo" or "strict time" music. Every dance works best at a certain speed of music. This is 'strict tempo.' Despite the word 'strict' the tempo can vary by 1 or 2 measures per minute. Here are the most common tempos, in measures per minute:

Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova Photo: Wigwam Jones
Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova Photo: Wigwam Jones

Foxtrot: 28 - 30

Waltz: 28 - 30

Tango: 32

Quickstep.: 50-52

Viennese Waltz: 56-58

Cha Cha Cha: 31

Samba: 48-50

Rumba: 26

Jive: 44

Paso Doble: 60-62

Over the years there has been a definite slowing down of tempi, often accompanied with additional complexity in the steps! Modern Samba choreography, in particular, is almost impossible to dance to Samba music from the 80's or earlier. Most good dancers consider that for a foxtrot or a waltz the slower the better.

Hints for a buying a Ballroom CD

First off if you are more than a beginner dancer you do not necessarily need to buy specialist strict tempo music. Foxtrots particularly show up in CD's put out by people such as Shirley Bassey and Micheal Buble.

Choose a CD which has all the same style of dance together: typically a 2 disk set may include 10 quicksteps, 10 foxtrots 13 waltzes 5 tangos and 3 Viennese waltzes. Get them grouped together: if you want to play them as background music you can always use the random track function on your player, but if you are practising then there is nothing more annoying than having to keep changing track as your waltz become a quickstep! I wouldn't recommend anything less than a 2CD set of either ballroom or latin - combining the two styles on a single CD or even a double will ensure that you are quickly bored with the 1 or 2 tracks of the dance you are practising.

Finding Local Dance Classes

If you happen to be looking for dance classes in New Zealand then check out my new site: Dance Classes Wellington where I intend to post all the local dance scene news plus tips on how to get into dance as a fun and healthy activity


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    • mabmiles profile image

      mabmiles 6 years ago

      This is great. very interesting hub.

    • profile image

      rebecca_gibson 6 years ago

      Yea, my old teacher would play the same tracks over and over every week. Im just glad that doesn't happen anymore

    • larrybo profile image

      larrybo 7 years ago from Brookfield WI (USA)

      I agree wholeheartedly, no reason the music has to be boring. We'vw used Katy Perry at dances with good results.

    • profile image

      Maria 7 years ago

      Very interesting post. You described the matter very simply but interestingly

    • Ballroom_Lessons profile image

      Ballroom_Lessons 8 years ago

      Yes Ballroom and Latin cds are great and lately you can get all the latest and best songs from itunes - that is if you know the name of the individual songs!

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 8 years ago from New Zealand

      Hendrika - use it or lose it as they say!

      Marisa Or the version of a song which is naturally a tango that they score for a foxtrot - yuck!

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 8 years ago from Sydney

      Lissie, it is nice to have variety in ballroom dance music - however it is a double-edged sword. Every now and then I'll come across a favourite song that's completely ruined by being scored for strict tempo - I end up dancing to it with gritted teeth!

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 8 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I always loved my ballroom dancing. I wonder how I have let it go through the years? My resolution: I'm going to start dancing again! Age is no excuse.

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 9 years ago from New York

      You have a very vibrant smile. Keep it like that always. I love it.

      It has been a secret desire of mine to learn ballroom and salsa but my work and other preoccupations never left me any time to go to a formal dance school. Can you recommend any web links which have dancing tutorials. I tried couple of times but the links always take me to their address etc details. I want to learn it at home. It was a good read, though.

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      I'm not sure - its a mix with a different piece used at the start for the Argentine work and then a more common piece for the international tango. Very nice video -its the same girl as I have in the photo

    • profile image

      dysnomian 9 years ago

      Which music (song title) are they using here?

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for the comments guys. The dress is lovely stressrelief - it seem that satin is back in again - nice - but I could never wear white - I am way too messy! Its never too late to get back into MrM - good for both mental and physical fitness for all ages

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 9 years ago from Sydney

      I learnt it many years ago. Val did not want to know me if I could not move around the dance floor. I loved it.

    • stressrelief profile image

      stressrelief 9 years ago from Nevada & Maryland

      Agreed, it has become really popular. Love her dress :)